He came to me through a horse trade with a New Mexico rancher. (More about that part of the story in a separate post   see “Horse Trading”)

He was fat and handsome and as far as I knew, nameless when he came to live with me. I held a competition among my riding students to come up with a fitting name for that handsome copper haired guy with flashy white feathered socks , blaze face , and ripling flowing mane and tail.

One of the boys wanted to name him “Mr T” because the horse was quite macho and arrogant and he had a scissors freeze brand on his shoulder.

Some of the girls wanted to name him Lancelot because of his noble carriage and he looked like a knight’s horse.

In the end, the only name that seemed to fit was “Horse”!  He was just ALL HORSE. That is the name that stuck, and for years he showed under that name. Often, management of shows that required pre-registration would call to tell me I had forgotten to fill in the space for the horse’s name and I would have to explain that “Horse” WAS his name. It didn’t take long for him to become known. “Horse” had quite a presence.

“Horse” also had many personas. He was the epitomy of versatile! He was also incredibly stubborn, macho and hard headed. More than once we would return from a ride , both of us irritated, and I would stick him in the corral still saddled, and walk away. We both needed time to cool off. There were always alot of people wanting to buy him. My husband was fond of telling them “You can’t buy him, but if you happen by on the right day…she might just GIVE him to you”

“Horse” loved life!He never had to be led into a trailer…just open the door and throw the lead over his neck and he was getting in, ready for adventure. He was the one that would readily jump into a herd of cattle to pull out the bull.

Once I let him know that it was OK to jump an obstacle rather than stepping politely over it, he was thrilled! “Horse” never refused a jump in his career.

When “Horse” went to the Dressage shows, people were sure that he was a Warmblood.

Parades were definitely his thing! He could show off with the best of them. His long mane and tail and flashy white socks really received attentiion as he pranced and snorted.

Cowboys from the local rodeo livestock contractors wanted to buy him for a pick -up horse

As full of energy as he was, and as wild as he liked to look, “Horse” was never unsafe to ride. Through all the parades, and bulls, and highways, and trains that we encountered in our 25 yrs together, never did “Horse” come close to hurting me.

We did have our moments however. I went out early one morning to catch “Horse” and get him ready for a show. We lived in the mountains about an hour from Albuquerque. “Horse” never did like to stand in a stall, so I would leave him out on the 10 acres over night and that strategy usually worked fine. This morning, however, “Horse” was nowhere to be found. It was a damp , foggy pre-dawn, and the pasture appered to be empty. So I enlisted the help of my husband and we started walking the fence line looking for breaks.

A soft whistle floated out from across the field and I hurried over to see what my other half had found. He smiled and pointed into a stand of pines. There was a herd of elk gathered in the trees, and in the center of the herd, was “Horse”….hiding out.

The elk scattered and disappeared up the hill. Now that he was found, “Horse” came fairly readily to the sound of grain rattling in a bucket.

We were already late. The sun was burning off the fog. We loaded up and headed to the show. This was a fairly large Dressage show with judges from out of town. We arrived with about 20 minutes until my ride. No time for braiding or proper grooming. I swiped a brush over “Horses” coat and my black boots, threw on the tack and headed for the warm up arena.

Still resenting being pulled from his early morning revery on the mountain, “Horse” decided he was not going to be a team player that day! We pulled what was probably the lowest score of our Dressage career as he stomped flatly around in front of the judge with a hollow back and braced neck.

The judge, a well known Dressage judge from California, was very kind though. In the comment section of our dressage test he had written “Grooming methods could be improved”. Perhaps the biggest understatement of the year!